Rules: Court must decide Justice residency
Will the third time be the charm for West Virginia House of Delegates member Isaac Sponaugle? More important, will the state’s judiciary finally settle the question of where our governor is required to reside?
Gov. Jim Justice makes no secret of the fact that he continues to reside where he did before being elected, in Lewisburg. He spends much of his time in Charleston, however, and has never been absent when his duties require him to be at the Capitol, Justice says.
But the state constitution appears to require that the governor and other top officials reside in Charleston. Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, has tried two lawsuits to get a court opinion on where Justice must reside. Both have been dismissed on grounds Sponaugle did not comply with requirements for such filings.
He is trying again. About a week before Christmas, Sponaugle filed a new lawsuit in Kanawha Circuit Court. He is seeking an order that Justice reside in Charleston.
No one — perhaps even Sponaugle — enjoys controversy over the governor’s residence. To many, the issue may seem insignificant. But it is important. It is a matter of what the state Constitution says and whether the governor must obey that basic document of government.
Failing to resolve the matter also leaves open the dangerous question: If the governor is not required to adhere to our state’s constitution, why should lawmakers? Or our judiciary? … or anyone?
So let us hope that somehow, the courts can resolve the matter early in this new year.